WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerged for a rare public address yesterday, praising jailed United States soldier Bradley Manning in an address delivered from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Addressing supporters on a cold and wet English evening, the 41-year-old Australian looked fit and healthy despite half a year spent trapped inside the small apartment he shares with Ecuador's diplomatic staff.

He gave no hint that he would end the standoff, which has seen him spend six months as a fugitive from European justice, saying he was holed up at the embassy for fear of the US investigation into his activities.